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Artifact HUB CII Best Practices FOSSA Status

Note well: don't forget to checkout Kubewarden's documentation for more information


policy-server is a Kubernetes dynamic admission controller that uses Kubewarden Policies to validate admission requests.

Kubewarden Policies are simple WebAssembly modules.


We recommend to rely on the kubewarden-controller and the Kubernetes Custom Resources provided by it to deploy the Kubewarden stack.

Configuring policies

A single instance of policy-server can load multiple Kubewarden policies. The list of policies to load, how to expose them and their runtime settings are handled through a policies file.

By default policy-server will load the policies.yml file, unless the user provides a different value via the --policies flag.

This is an example of the policies file:

  url: registry://
  url: registry://
  url: file:///tmp/namespace-validate-policy.wasm
    valid_namespace: kubewarden-approved

The YAML file contains a dictionary with strings as keys, and policy objects as values.

The key that identifies a policy is used by policy-server to expose the policy through its web interface. Policies are exposed under `/validate/.

For example, given the configuration file from above, the following API endpoint would be created:

  • /validate/psp-apparmor: this exposes the psp-apparmor:v0.1.3 policy. The Wasm module is downloaded from the OCI registry of GitHub.
  • /validate/psp-capabilities: this exposes the psp-capabilities:v0.1.3 policy. The Wasm module is downloaded from the OCI registry of GitHub.
  • /validate/namespace_simple: this exposes the namespace-validate-policy policy. The Wasm module is loaded from a local file located under /tmp/namespace-validate-policy.wasm.

It's common for policies to allow users to tune their behaviour via ad-hoc settings. These customization parameters are provided via the settings dictionary.

For example, given the configuration file from above, the namespace_simple policy will be invoked with the valid_namespace parameter set to kubewarden-approved.

Note well: it's possible to expose the same policy multiple times, each time with a different set of parameters.

The Wasm file providing the Kubewarden Policy can be either loaded from the local filesystem or it can be fetched from a remote location. The behaviour depends on the URL format provided by the user:

  • file:///some/local/program.wasm: load the policy from the local filesystem
  • download the policy from the remote http(s) server
  • registry://localhost:5000/project/artifact:some-version download the policy from a OCI registry. The policy must have been pushed as an OCI artifact

Logging and distributed tracing

The verbosity of policy-server can be configured via the --log-level flag. The default log level used is info, but trace, debug, warn and error levels are available too.

Policy server can produce logs events using different formats. The --log-fmt flag is used to choose the format to be used.

Standard output

By default, log messages are printed on the standard output using the text format. Logs can be printed as JSON objects using the json format type.

Open Telemetry Collector

The open Telemetry project provides a collector component that can be used to receive, process and export telemetry data in a vendor agnostic way.

Policy server can send trace events to the Open Telemetry Collector using the --log-fmt otlp flag.

Current limitations:

  • Traces can be sent to the collector only via grpc. The HTTP transport layer is not supported.
  • The Open Telemetry Collector must be listening on localhost. When deployed on Kubernetes, policy-server must have the Open Telemetry Collector running as a sidecar.
  • Policy server doesn't expose any configuration setting for Open Telemetry (e.g.: endpoint URL, encryption, authentication,...). All of the tuning has to be done on the collector process that runs as a sidecar.

More details about OpenTelemetry and tracing can be found inside of our official docs.


You can use the container image we maintain inside of our GitHub Container Registry.

Alternatively, the policy-server binary can be built in this way:

$ make build

Software bill of materials

Policy server has its software bill of materials (SBOM) published every release. It follows the SPDX version 2.2 format and it can be found together with the signature and certificate used to signed it in the release assets


The Kubewarden team is security conscious. You can find our threat model assessment and responsible disclosure approach in our Kubewarden docs.